Who doesn’t like a good life hack? Google has more than 40 million hits on a “life hacks” search, and you can find creative shortcuts and ideas on everything from how to fold a fitted sheet (we’re still not sure that’s possible) to using Doritos to start a fire.
A life hack is a simple and clever tip or technique for doing a common task more easily and efficiently. Did you know that the Bible also has a life hack for something you do every day? This one is way better than knowing the ten uses for that toilet paper roll. It’s how to fight temptation – the choices you make every single day to sin or not sin.
We’ve written before about fighting temptation (check out this blog post on five steps to fight temptation and win), but it’s important enough to keep emphasizing it. Like Adam talked about last Tuesday at the Porch, fighting temptation is one of the most important parts of the Christian life. Learning how to deal with temptation can be the difference between becoming who God wants you to be, or becoming a mere shadow of it.
The Bible’s perspective on temptation can be summarized in one verse: “ No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV).
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.”
You are going to be tempted. Fact. Maybe you’re even being tempted right now. It would be nice if there was an off-switch for temptation, but you’re not going to find it on this side of heaven. You might think that you’re a bad Christian for being tempted (that’s a lie we talked about in this blog post), but that’s not the case. Your temptations might be unique to you, depending on the sin you find most attractive, but the fact that you’re tempted is not unique.
It doesn’t matter if you’re tempted by pride, sex, anxiety, materialism, porn, greed, lying, people-pleasing, or whatever kind of sin. As a Christian, every day is a battle. Take a deep breath – you’re in the same boat as literally every other human on the planet. You’re normal. The hits are going to keep coming, no matter who you are.
“And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.”
The hits will keep coming, but here’s the deal – none of them is a guaranteed knockout punch. God Himself said so! No temptation that you’ll face is more than you can bear. You will never be forced to give in to sin. It is always a choice. That’s both comforting and sobering. Comforting in that the temptation you face won’t be more than you can resist, but sobering in that you can’t pass the blame on to anyone or anything else. You can’t blame culture, your friends, your parents, the way that person dressed, or the picture that popped up on your Instagram feed. And you definitely can’t blame God – the choice to sin is yours alone (check out James 1:13-15 for more on this). But God is faithful. The reason that you’ll never be tempted beyond what you can bear is because God always provides a way out before you break.
“But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
This is where the two-part life hack comes in. Part one is knowing that every time you’re tempted, God provides escape hatches. Find them! Part two is actually taking the way out! But here’s where this life hack is different from most: it isn’t always easy. Let’s be honest – a lot of times when you’re tempted, you’ve blown right past the early escape hatches without even thinking. By the time you snap to your senses, it might be too late. A lot of times that realization comes after you’ve sinned. Don’t blame God for not providing an easy way out at the last minute, when you ignored the escape hatches He gave you along the way!
Here’s a scenario: if you’re in bed with your boyfriend / girlfriend, about to go all the way, it might not feel like there’s a way out in that moment (hint: here it is – STOP, and leave! It will feel incredibly hard, but it’s still a way out). It feels like there’s no way out now, because you ignored all the ways out earlier. You could have avoided alone time at night by setting up healthy boundaries in your relationship. You could have told your community group where you were going and asked for real-time accountability for when you’d leave. You could have moved to separate couches the moment that you felt sexual desire stirring. You could have stopped and left after that first kiss. The list goes on. All of those were opportunities that God gave you to escape that sin! But you kept going. The way out is still there, but now the escape hatch is barely cracked, and you’re the one who’s been closing it.
For some great thoughts on how to take a crowbar to the escape hatch and throw it wide open against the temptations of lust, porn, and sex, check out ANTHEM: Strategies for Fighting Lust.
Here’s a bonus life hack: you don’t just have to play defense against temptation. You can also play offense! God offers tools that can help keep you from getting to that place of intense temptation in the first place. Memorize these verses and start applying them to your life:
Submit yourself to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7)
Walk by the Spirit, and you will not fulfill your flesh’s desires (Galatians 5:16)
Choose your friends – and the person you date – carefully (Proverbs 12:26)
Make no provisions to gratify the desires of your flesh (Romans 13:14)
Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness (2 Timothy 2:22)
Flee from sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18)
Put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18)
Memorize God’s Word (Psalm 119:11)
Confess your sins (1 John 1:9)
Pray (Luke 22:40)
Make it your mission to find – and take – as many early escape hatches as you can. Keep a laser focus on the ways out that God provides in every moment of temptation, no matter how big or small. Keep up the good fight!
We’d love to hear from you! You can email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments.